Thirty-three traditional rulers in the Eastern Province have welcomed the updating of the 1958 chiefdom boundary maps made before Zambia became a sovereign state.
The Chiefs have also observed that the move by the government to seek consensus over the 1958 Chiefdoms Boundaries Act is a sign of bringing reconciliation to the country for the purpose of development.
The 33 traditional rulers nodded to the updated chiefdom boundary act during a stakeholders’ engagement meeting held in Chipata yesterday.
Chieftainess Msoro of the Kunda People in Mambwe district said the traditional leadership in the province is hopeful that the process the government has initiated to address chiefdom boundary issues using the 1958 act will generate misunderstanding, conflict and confusion.
Speaking on behalf of the traditional leadership Chieftainess Msoro said Government must ensure that the whole process is done well to harness the developmental potential of the province and the nation at large.
She noted that bringing the traditional rulers in one place for the engagement meeting is a sign of how much Republican President Hakainde Hichilema attaches great value to unity and reconciliation in the nation.
“This shows the great love that the President has for this country and its people. Being one people [traditional leaders], it is of critical importance that we need to take time to sit down, to find ways to look at this map, interrogate this map and to find solutions,” she said.
And in his opening remarks at the meeting, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Permanent Secretary for Technical Services, Nicholas Phiri said the exercise is an important undertaking because it signifies the government’s resolve to ensure that land is well managed for the well-being of the Zambian people.
“Government takes a keen interest in matters of both state and customary land as it is essential to the prosperity of the nation,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary mentioned that the government remains concerned with chiefdom boundary disputes, which it wants to be resolved for the sake of development.
“Your government led by President Hakainde Hichilema is concerned with the ever-increasing chiefdom boundary disputes, a situation that has continued to undermine developmental efforts in affected areas, and in some cases threaten human life,” he said.
Mr Phiri noted that considering that land is a huge asset to the nation and a key to economic development, it is necessary that issues around land and land boundaries are well managed.
He stated that almost 90 percent of the land in Zambia is customary land domiciled in chiefdoms, but dogged with boundary disputes, which usually arise from lack of information and difficulties in interpreting the 1958 chiefdom boundaries.
Mr Phiri added that in a quest to address the recurring land boundary disputes among traditional leaders the government, through the office of the surveyor general, reproduced adequate copies of the 1958 chiefdom boundary maps as well as a set of the same maps but with enhanced topographic features for easy interpretation of chiefdom boundaries.